Alison Holland’s innovative book fills a gap in Beauvoir studies by focusing on the writer’s frequently neglected novels and short stories, L’Invitée, Les Mandarins, Les Belles Images, and La Femme rompue. In illuminating the density and rich complexity of Beauvoir’s style, Holland challenges the often accepted view that Beauvoir’s writing is flat, detached, and controlled, revealing, rather, that her prose is frequently disrupted and inflected by forceful emotion. Holland shows that excess and transgression are intrinsic qualities of the texts, and argues that Beauvoir’s textual strategies duplicate madness in her fiction. Holland’s reading of Beauvoir’s fiction demonstrates the extent to which Beauvoir’s fiction undermines an ideologically patriarchal position on language. Her study is important not only for its re-evaluation of Beauvoir as a fiction writer but for its contribution to the wider debate on madness and literature.
'Certainly for readers accustomed to think of the author as a largely autobiographical and hence relatively realistic writer, these analyses open new perspectives, and Holland is successful in her avowed aim of making it more difficult to speak of 'Beauvoir's indifference to style.' … this in an interesting and closely argued book which has a great many useful insights to offer.' New Zealand Journal of French Studies
Contents: Introduction; L'Invitée; Les Mandarins; Les Belles Images; La Femme rompue; Postscript; Bibliography; Index.